Monday, June 30, 2008

St. Louis and RUSH

Ryan and I got a nice little surprise when his machine at work broke down Thursday night. We found out he wouldn't have to work Friday because the machine wouldn't be up and running until Monday. So, that meant we got an extra day in St. Louis. Originally, we were planning on leaving early Saturday morning, spending a little time with a some friends once we got to into town, and going to the RUSH concert Saturday night. Instead, we left Friday afternoon and had all evening Friday, all day Saturday, and most of the day Sunday. It was wonderful!!!

Ryan usually drives when we go to St. Louis. He's had friends there for years, so he has had a lot of practice driving around there. That was a nice break for me. Most of the time on our little trips, I drive. I love to drive...maybe it's a control thing, I don't know. Heading into Illinois, things started looking a little grim. The skies got darker and darker until finally it let loose and dumped on us. Once again, I traveled through some of the worst weather ever on I70. Jen and Chad have experienced some nasty weather on I70 with me. It dumped on us on the way to Columbus a few weeks ago. It was actually a little worse heading to St. Louis.This is the edge of the storm front that we were driving into. The lightning was awesome, but the rain was scary at times. We never completely stopped and pulled over, but we got into line with a bunch of other vehicles going about thirty with their flashers on. It was a good and safe team effort.
By the time we got through Illinois, the sun was shining again. It's always really pretty coming into St. Louis from Illinois. Even though the river was high from the floods, it was still beautiful. The waterfront was definitely higher than normal, but it looked as though they have been pretty fortunate in that area weather wise.Our good friend Chris, or Cree as we call him, was at work until midnight, so we decided to grab a bite to eat and meet up with Cree's parents until he got off work. We decided to eat at Schlafly's Brewery. It's one of our favorite places in St Louis. Of course Ryan loves the beer they brew there, but I prefer the wine. Their food is a little fancy for my taste, but it's OK. Ryan and I split some chickem enchiladas which were really good, but the Spanish rice was kinda nasty. I thought it tasted like rubber bands. Ryan explained to me that someone probably had to go to college to learn how to make that rice taste like rubber bands.....he's probably right.
It was dark by the time we left Schlafly's. I'm pretending to hold the tanks over my head here.....silly girl!!!!We went to Cree's parents' house and watched the Cardinal's game and some ultimate fighting until Cree got there. I had polished off a whole bottle of wine by that time, but Ryan waited for Cree to start the real drinking. Shots of Crown were the perfect kick off for a great weekend!!!

We stayed at John and Linda's (Cree's parents) and hung out with some of their family for a few hours before we went back to Cree's apartment. When we got there, the three of us hung out like we were teenagers all over again. It was fun. Cree just got a new place, so he was showing off some of his know, his TV, surround sound stuff, sharing itunes, his snake I said teenage stuff.

We didn't even start thinking about sleeping until we realized the sun was coming up. We had a big game of disc golf planned for Saturday, so we decided it was time to go to bed. We all fell asleep listening to a bunch of teenagers.
Saturday afternoon, we peeled ourselves out of bed and headed to Jefferson Barricks park for disc golf. We drove through some of the city sights on our way. I thought this restaurant looked really cool. It's a German place. I thought my mom would like to see it, so I took some pictures.

Ever since I started dating Ryan, he has talked about going to St. Louis and eating a "Slinger." It wasn't until this trip that I finally encoutered the "Slinger." Let me tell was a sight to behold. OMG!!!
The Coutesy Diner is the infamous home of the Slinger. It seems to me like it would be one of those things that people would go eat at 3:00 AM after the bars closed down and they needed some major alcohol absorption. If I remember correctly, this is what the Slinger includes: hashbrowns, two eggs your style, two hamburger patties, chili, onions, peppers, and shredded cheese....all piled on top of eachother. Oh yeah and some toast to soak it all up. This is what they look like:
Pretty scary, huh? But the boys love 'em!!!!!

I didn't take my camera out for disc golf. It's not very convenient, so I don't have any pictures of the park. It's really kind of a shame that I didn't get any pictures. It was beautiful. That's one thing I have noticed about St. Louis, they have tons of public parks around town. They are very well maintained and always seem to have activities for the community to get involved in.

Our game of disc golf was comical to say the least. Cree and I both got our asses kicked by Ryan. He finished 4 under par, Cree finished 12 over, and I finished 22 over. That's actually about average for me. I seem to throw one over on almost every hole, no matter what course we're playing. It took us a couple hours to finish our game, so by that time, it was time to get ready for the RUSH show!!!

We went back to Cree's house to get cleaned up after our disc golf outing. The guys had a few drinks before the show, and I played with Rupert, Cree's snake. He's awesome!! We hung out a lot this weekend.
This is our "before" picture for the night of the RUSH show. To be honest, I don't even think I got an "after" photo.

The show was fabulous!!!! I have never been a huge RUSH fan as far as their music goes. Of course I appreciate that they are talented musicians, but man, I had no idea what I was in for. They put on an awesome live show. I would love to see them again this summer if I could. Alex Lifeson, their guitar player was pretty awesome. Geddy Lee can still hit those high notes, believe it or not, and Neil Peart, their drummer...OMG!!!!

I guess maybe I've got a thing for drummers...I don't know what it is, but once again, the drummer was the one man in the band who really caught my attention. First of all, his set up was crazy. He literally sits in a circle of drums. One set is electric, electronic, whatever the correct term is, and then he has a regular set. They completely surround him as he sits on a pedestal that turns. He stands and turns as he switches drum sets, that way he is always facing the crowd. His drum solo was probably at least 30 miutes long. I was totally in awe the whole time. It was amazing.

Ryan and I are so used to all the small shows in the small venues that this one was a huge production compared to normal for us. They had three huge screens behind them showing close ups of all the guys. When it wasn't showing the band members, it had real trippy graphics rolling all over the place. They also had a laser light show that blew my mind. There were a few flames on stage throughout the night too. They had a big pyrotechnic setup behind the drummer. There were two huge explosions during the show, and I missed both of them. The first time I was looking at my nachos. The second time I was walking to the bathrooms. Both times I jumped. It sounded like big fireworks exploding right in front of me. I was disappointed that I missed it. There were several times that I did get to see the little explosions, so that fed my pyromania enough for the night.

So, at the very least, I can say that I love RUSH live. I can't wait for another opportunity to see them again. Sunday Ryan, Cree and I went down to the area called "The Loop" in St. Louis. There are several different restaurants and shops in that area. We always try to hit up the record store called Vintage Vinyl. It's huge and had a good selection of music, movies, old vinyl, collectors pieces that have anything to do with music, and all kinds of other trinkets. I love it, and always spend too much money there.After walking around Vintage Vinyl for about an hour, we all ate at a Mexican restaurant called El Maguey. It was delicious!!!! I love Mexican food....but it was bad news on the way home a few hours later....he he he :-)
After we ate, Cree went on home to be with his son and we kept walking. I was really glad that we did because we came across a real fun little scene a few blocks away.There were a few different street performers. This guy was spinning a top on all kinds of stuff. He even got it spinning on a string and threw it up in the air and would catch it again while it was still spinning. It was really cool.He caught me staring and pointed me out, so I walked over to him when he waved at me. He asked me if I wanted to help him. Of course I did!!!! I didn't get to play with any of his fancy toys, but I did get to hold the top on a pen and a baseball bat. It was pretty cool. It was spinning so fast that I could just barely tell it was moving. I know that sounds weird, but it's true. Hard to explain, I guess.What originally drew us towards this crowd was the drums we heard off in the distance. We were walking to Ryan's truck and heard what sounded like a drum circle, so we walked toward the sound. We were right. There was a big drum circle with people just coming and going and joining in whenever they wanted. There were a few people out dancing in the middle of the circle. It was really fun.This is the back side of the area where they were all playing. Out closer to the street, there were a few vendors selling food, clothes and jewelry.I really enjoyed watching the big mamma in the green shirt with the tamborine. That woman was all soul!!!! I wish we had cool stuff happening like that around here somewhere. I don't know if this was an organized event or if this was something spontaneous, but either way, you would never see that happen around here, and I think it's a shame.Even though I've been to St. Louis a zillion times, it's always cool to see the arch. So I had to grab a couple more pictures on the way out of town. I took this one out of the passenger side window on the way over the river.
Same here....hanging out the window....but man, how 'bout that reflection in the river? OK, so it's crooked, but it's still cool!!!
Back home again in INDIANA............................

Smooches from Ryan to carry you through till the next adventure...........

Next up.............WEEN in Louisville, KY July 7th.

See ya later!!!!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ekoostik Hookah Rocks The Plaza in Fort Wayne

Every Saturday in downtown Fort Wayne there is an event called "Rock the Plaza." It is outside the library on a concrete patio area with a small landing that acts as a stage for these events. They have several bands play for free each weekend, beer for sale, and a few vendors on the sidewalks. You have to keep the beer inside certain perimeters, but it's still really nice to be able to hang out downtown and drink a beer outside in public. You can bring lawn chairs and blankets and just sprawl out wherever you want. It was great!!It was a very family friendly. There were kids everywhere. A lot of them even ended up on stage throughout the evening. I don't think it bothered Dave on the keyboard, or Cliff on bass, but when they started getting in the path of Steve Sweney, things got a little funny. Sweney was literally hiding behind his stacks of speakers at one point in time. That was when the kids got officially kicked off hte stage. But it was super cute while it was happening. Cliff bent down and tried to get them to touch his bass strings, but they wouldn't do it. They couldn't stop bouncing long enough to even think. They were having the times of their lives!!! I ended up finding out that the little girl in the black and white belongs to a man from Marion, IN named David Williams. That's kinda weird because that's the ER Dr's name who I dated before Ryan :-)................Anyway, I found this out after posting the picture and he sent me a PM saying who he was. Now we have another Hookahhead close to home that maybe we can carpool with.
I had a lot of fun up front dancing with the kids. Honestly, I wanted to jump on stage too, but I didn't want to steal their glory :-)Dave was grinning all night long at the kids. He's a family man. In fact, he is the main reason Ekoostik Hookah doesn't travel very far very often. Most of their shows are based out of Ohio because he wants to be with his family as much as possible. Who could ever balme a man for that?This is our buddy, Rob Skinner. He was at the Phil and Friends show a couple days earlier. However, he was NOT sporting that Bus Driver hat. Cliff ended up wearing it by the end of the night.

I'm always frustrated with my pictures of Eric. This one is just like the rest of them.........whatever. We did get to hang out with Eric for awhile after the show. He told us a really funny story about being arrested in Mexico for pulling switches on the side of the road that shut the street lights out. They held him at gun point. How crazy is that?!?!?

I had been bugging Eric the night before about a drum stick. It might seem silly, but it's my thing. I can't help it. Unfortunately he didn't break one Friday at The Vogue, but because he didn't, I called dibs for Saturday's broken stick on Friday night....and I got it!!! After their encore was over, he handed it over to one of their stage hands and pointed mt out. As I was reaching to get it, some other chick tried to grab it, and Eric yelled "No, not her!!" That chick was pissed. He pointed me out, and I climbed up on the stage to get past her reach. It was pretty funny!!!!

I told him that he needs to come visit the candle lit shrine of himself that I have in my house. I think I had him wondering for a minute. It was funny......he knows I love him.

There's my baby and me!!! I liked this picture because of the sky and the buildings in the background. It was absolutely beautiful that night. Clear skies, not too humid, and just a little breezy. We couldn't have asked for better weather!!!

Sweney rocked our worlds just like always!! I talked to him both nights too. That's a rarity. First of all, I feel a little intimidated by him, and second of all, I don't want to be that annoying girl who follows the guys around and has nothing to say. I like being able to carry on a normal conversation with these guys. I still haven't found that comfort with Sweney yet. But, it's getting easier. I can't wait until next time I see him. I'm excited to tell him I went to see Rush. Their guitarist, Alex Lifeson, is one of Sweney's favorites.
This is Lisa, Kelly Ann, and me!!! I was really happy to see Lisa and her husband, Tom. They are super cool people. They were at Hookahville, but kinda of kept to themselves. Tom is a little older than Lisa, but they seem perfect for eachother. I'm really hoping they come to Fall Hookahville this year. I'd like to get to know them better.

I guess we'll say the other picture of me and Ryan was the "before" picture. This one must be the "after" picture. Luckily, Julie Wolfe offered to drive home, so I didn't have to play designated driver. I actually drank some beer....weird, huh? I am much more the wino than the beer drinker...but I have recently found a blueberry beer that I really like a lot. It's called Wild Blue....................good stuff!!!
Two of our good friends Julie Balvich, and Julie Wolfe rode with us. We kept joking about "the Julies all night. So here I am hanging out with "The Julies."For this being a free show, they made a pretty big production out of it. The lights were great. Buddy, their light guy seemed to be having fun when I went back to visit him for a minute. Julie B. was hanging towards the back with Buddy because she has a broken foot and is in a big boot right now. So every once in awhile I would wander back by the lights to talk to them.
We all had a great time, and the only bummer about this show being over is the fact that I have a whole month between seeing Hookah again....that doesn't happen too often....and I don't like it when it does.......BUT, I did see Rush this past weekend, so keep yourselves posted.

The Birthday Queen

After partying like a rock star for two nights, I had to jump back to reality for a couple of hours and play the role of the "nail chick" at our niece's birthday party Saturday afternoon. Saige Marie is the Queen sitting at the far end of the table with her hand in the cheesy puffs. Isn't she beautiful?!?!? Ryan's sister, Stacy, threw a girly party for Saige for her sixth birthday, and I got suckered into doing nails for the day.....even toe nails. You know I was thrilled to have some dirty little toes all over me. They all got their nails and toes done, got make up, and got their hair done. They also got the take a little present from each station. They got a little bottle of nail polish, some lip gloss, a tierra and a head band, and some hair glitter with make up case that Stacy painted all their names on.
We all had cheesy puffs, cupcakes, and Capri Suns after everyone got all dressed up. Saige was hiding from Ryan and the camera all day, but we finally caught her when she sat still long enough to blow her candles out. She wanted eveyone to hurry up and eat so she could open her presents.When we got done eating and washing cheese off of everyone, it was time for presents!!! Yeah!! Ryan and I bought her Cowboy Barbie and a Barbie horse to go with it. Along with Cowboy Barbie, she got about a million other Barbies....and was just as excited every time she opened one. It was cute. I kept waiting on her to complain about not getting anything else, but I guess that's all she wanted. Ryan said it looked like a Barbie masacre after they were all ripped from their boxes.....he was right :-)
We tried to get a good picture and a goofy picture of the girls before they all left.
Saige (second from the left) didn't do the goofy face for pooper!!!! But she did look beautiful!!!

The girls all thought Ryan was weird. I thought that was funny. But he was bound to get picked on....he was the only boy there. He was in charge of pictures. I don't think he realized what he was getting into when he agreed to carry the camera. I'm sure he loved every minute of it!!!

Ekoostik Hookah at The Vogue in Indy

Last Friday after getting back from Ohio for the Phil show, I went to see Ekoostik Hookah at The Vogue in Broad Ripple. I have been waiting for this show for months. It has been several years since Hookah has played at The Vogue. We were really hoping to bring in a huge crowd so they would come back, but we were hurting a little on numbers because of other events going on that night. Jack Johnson was playing at Deer Creek, Bonaroo was going on, and the Indy Jazz Fest was happening with Buddy Guy, Madeski, Martin and Wood, and a couple other artists who pull in big crowds. The promoters for Hookah were aware of everything else going on that night, so I'm hoping that they will schedule another show there soon even though the crowd wasn't what we had hoped it would be.I was afraid that Ryan would miss part of the show because he had to work that night. Normally, he doesn't get off of work until 10:30, but he got lucky Friday and was able to leave a little early. He walked in not more than ten minutes after I got there. It was perfect timing. The opening band, called Hip-O, had just ended their set. They were actually pretty good. I only heard a couple songs, but really enjoyed what I heard. These are our friends Matt, Liz and Carolina, or Carrie. I was so happy to see Matt and Liz. It has been a long time since we have all seen eachother, so it was kind of like a family reunion of sorts. Of course, a lot of the Hookah shows are kind of a reunion for a lot of us.
Matt and Ryan love eachother....and have obviously missed eachother. Aren't they sweet?!?!?
This is my first ever picture on my own camera of me and Steve Sweney. The few times I have talked to him, I have been too star struck to ask for a picture. I think the only other picture that exists of us is on Kelly Ann's camera. It's definitely NOT a good picture of Sweney, but it's better than nothing!!! They closed the show by doing "Comfortably Numb" for their encore. Steve broke a string at the beginning of the song and tore our faces off with five strings. I thought it was amazing. Apparently, Steve didn't think it was quite so amazing though. We talked about it after the show.

It was kind of a crazy night for the guys. They seemed to be having a great time on stage. sometimes I think they have even more fun when they have a smaller crowd to cater to. Dave broke a string during the song Old Montana Red Dog. I don't think I've EVER seen him break a string. The funny thing was......he broke a string the next night too. Ryan and I decided they bought this batch of strings at a discount store :-)

It's always so frustrating for me when I'm trying to get pictures of Eric. It's just hard in general to get good pictures of the drummer, I think. They're always toward the back of the stage and people are always moving around in front of them. So, I didn't get many good pictures of him, but I did call dibs on the next drumstick he broke. I got it Saturday night ;-)
This is our friend Julie Balvich. We have known her for years from following the band, but we have just recently started trying to go to shows together. I think a lot of people are doing that since gas prices suck so bad right now. Plus, carpooling is fun....the more the merrier, right?
Matt and TeShannah were there, and Ashley came after the Jack Johnson show. It was awesome that some people went to both of those shows that night. Hookah played until almost 2:30, which surprised me. The Vogue usually seems to end their shows earlier than that. But, I'm definitely not complaining!!! I think everyone I talked to who went to both the Jack Johnson show and the Hookah show enjoyed the Hookah show a lot more. I was glad to hear that. Not that I have anything against Jack Johnson. In fact, I love his music, but I just want to see big things happening for my small town boys.
Here's a picture of Dave right after he broke his string. If you look really close, you can see it hanging off the right side of his guitar. This was right before he handed it off to be fixed and jumped over to the keys to keep playing. I bet if you heard a recording of this song, you would never even know anything happened. It was such a smooth transition from the acoustic guitar to the keys that it sounded nearly flawless. But for those of us who were there.....we know what really happened. :-)

The crowd was so much fun. Even though there were only a couple hundred of us, we partied like there was no tomorrow. The front of the stage was covered by a whole bunch of our friends. It was almost like it was our personal show. It's fun to be completely surrounded by people you know up front at a show like that. Clint and his cousin Matt even showed up for a little while. It's always fun to have Clint around. He's always so lively and animated in everything he does....never a dull moment!!!

Dave and Kelly Ann ended up leaving early because of Dave's whiny brother. I felt bad for all of them. His wife was having a great time up front with all us girls and he got pissy about it. i guess he thought she was flirting or something. But while that load of crap was floating around in his head, it blinded him from the other twnety females surrounding his wife.....maybe he was just jealous :-) So, it sucked that they weren't there for the second set. We made up for it Saturday night though.

After the show Ryan, our nieghbor Marcus, and I all headed back to West Middleton. We stopped for some delicious White Castle on the way home and talked about what the next night would hold. It was a great night. I managed to get home in enough time to catch a few hours of sleep before we had to get up and get ready for the rest of the weekend.

I hope Ekoostik Hookah comes back to Indy sometime soon. I want another show at The Vogue. I know all the guys really liked playing that venue. That's probably a good sign. Hopefully they will pursue another trip back our way before too long.